I originally released this set (NTA Volume 8) on December 21, 2014 as
“Mitch Paliga Quintet, May 23, 1990.” It turns out that date and band
is likely incorrect. Bear with us for an explanation.
This was originally thought to be a recording of the Mitch Paliga
Quintet from May 24, 1990. The source tape came from Jeff Machota’s
collection and was labeled Mitch Paliga 5/23/90.
The recording sounded very well-balanced to me, and was a cut above
the standard “boom box on the bandstand” recording a lot of our
material comes from. The recording levels in Audacity were pretty even,
the visual audio wave patterns looked remarkably even and well-formed in
the audio editing software, and it sounded like the recording was a
couple cassette generations away from the source tape. There was also
approximately 60 minutes of usable material, with 30 minutes of very
distorted audio on the remainder of the recording. It sounded like
digital noise to me, the kind where a digital tape machine misreads the
material. This digital noise, coupled with a very uniform, clean wave
pattern on the recording, led me to believe it was recorded by Paul
Wienke for airing on WILL-FM at a later date, and he’d had some sort of
digital error when recording the second set.
However, a few weeks after posting the show, there developed two rubs:
1) Mitch Paliga had no recollection of this gig, which would be strange if he was the bandleader.
2) My theory of the source of the recording was questioned by Jeff Helgesen, who played on this gig.
Mitch, Jeff Helgesen and Scott Frillman are listed as personnel this
night, and all agree that the lineup is correct. Jeff Machota found the
monthly flyer advertising the coming shows, and saw that Russell
Cheatham and Friends was booked on Saturday, May 24, the day after
Paliga was headliner.
Then, a rather nice thing happened: Paul Wienke chimed in out of the
blue, and stated he didn’t record the gig. While it turned out my theory
on the recording source was completely incorrect, it’s far better to
have concrete information.
The common accepted information among the musicians who played the
gig is that this is the Russell Cheatham and Friends gig from the next
night, May 24, 1990. The recording is likely what Jeff Helgesen
speculated: a recorder of unknown origin set up on the front table. Jeff
Machota had the source tape in his personal collection; it was likely
he asked the original recordier for a dub of the tape, which was made
shortly after the gig, and either he or the original recorder simply
In any case, the statements I made at the time of the original
posting are still true. We find Scott Frillman playing baritone sax.
This is the first recording I’ve heard that has Scott on bari, and he’s
certainly doing a great job with it. Second is Russell Cheatham playing
in a group that’s not Sorgum. While I’m an unabashed Sorgum junkie and
love the funk-jazz they made, it’s great to hear him in a more bop and
standards-oriented group, too. Jeff Machota told me this gig occurred
when Sorgum guitarist Chuck Tripp was out of town, hence the different
So, my apologies for getting the info wrong the first time. Even with all
of the collective brain power used to try and get as many of the details
on these tapes correct, there will no doubt be some mistakes along the
Sean Kutzko January 24, 2015
The Band: Russell Cheatham – organ
Mitch Paliga – alto, tenor, soprano sax
Jeff Helgesen – trumpet
Scott Frillman – baritone sax
Danny Deckard – drums